Back in 2015, it was hard to explain the concept and reality of Digital Transformation to most mid-market CEOs. At that time, we, at CoStrategix, had decided to squarely focus on Digital. Only problem was, it was quite a challenge to compellingly present Digital Transformation and it’s benefits to potential customers.
Fast forward to 2018, I run into CEOs who are digitally savvy. They often have pointed ideas about how to go digital. But astonishingly, that is still a very small percentage. The key difference today is that I see a larger percentage of companies that ARE ALREADY pursuing digital initiatives. They just don’t know that they are.
We have witnessed many new customer projects that come to us for strategy and execution help. In these cases, customers are pursuing digital initiatives as one-off projects without a cohesive Digital Transformation strategy that ties them all together for bigger and better ROI.
Digital Transformation manifests today in these projects pursued by an organization (in no order of importance):
1. Mobile Applications
Let us look at a few scenarios that generally occur in the Mobility space:
1> You have a mobile app project in the mix.
2> You need to make it easier for the customer, partner or employee to consume your organization’s product or service.
3> You just need a mobile app to achieve parity with your competitor.
4> Your customers are asking for a mobile solution – This, by the way, is a clear indicator that you could be ‘reacting’ to your customers’ demand to engage with your core offerings differently than how it’s been done in the past.
If any of these scenarios is what you are currently witnessing within your organization, a dimension of Digital transformation is already underway. All that is needed now is a cohesive strategy that will tie it all together.
Non-IT functions such as Finance or Operations generally initiate Analytics or reporting projects. This need is mostly accompanied by the notion that the IT function in their organization has no capacity or inadequate skill to take on this type of project. The key drivers are mostly to get rid of the excel spreadsheets and the time it takes each month (or reporting period) to compile and distribute them. This opens up a number of possibilities to look at all the valuable data curated and stored on a single database setup for reporting and historical analysis. I sometimes hear predictive analytics and visualization dashboards as exciting future possibilities when justifying such projects from a budget standpoint. Many times mining and analyzing huge amounts of existing historical data also opens up new revenue streams for the customer.
3. Innovation Workshops
This aspect comes up with slightly larger, upper mid-market organizations. I have witnessed this more with Financial services and Insurance companies. It is usually in response to a sales and marketing funnel problem – They are looking for a solution to increase conversions or generate more leads. Another reason the workshops come up – I find this very interesting – It’s done to engage the millennial generation and tap into a set of new ideas and contemporary thought process.
4. Rapid Digital Evolution
I see this pattern a lot. Companies are looking to IT organizations for projects that often need custom development as they are unable to keep up with the pace of digital evolution.
IT shops, usually stretched thin and often relegated to a cost-center with tight budgets, are now suddenly in the crossfire of digital expectations.
They may not have the right expertise and processes in place to move fast. For a team that is rewarded on 100% up-time of operational systems, to instantly change and pursue a concept of fail-fast, design sprints, Agile processes can be a major challenge. Joining hands with a digital partner who can offer you deep technical expertise is the best solution. Lot of mid-market companies also begin to recognize that they need a VP of IT or a Director role that can participate in strategic planning and translate it into action. In many cases, I have also seen a role being created and filled for an Application Director – someone with previous tech experience who can take charge of developing custom software applications to enable the company to take advantage of new possibilities with emerging technologies.
5. User Experience
Usually an application that is facing end customers with an outdated interface is the focus of a user interface redesign. This is also just an effect of a deeper root cause – the customer base using the application is demanding a better and faster engagement with the company. What we see almost always missing is a strategic approach to redesign. The notion of Customer Journey Mapping, that is the foundation of Customer Experience, is completely missed. A key opportunity to understanding customer needs, motivations, frustrations and building strong engagement is skipped. We also see branding agencies of record (AoR) tasked with user interface redesign. This results in stellar visual renderings but quite often falls short in areas of user engagement metrics/conversions.
6. Modernize the Core
IT function gets tasked to modernize existing systems in IT footprint. This is largely driven by better off-the-shelf systems, need for greater confidence in systems security and/or lack of a viable upgrade path with some of the older technologies that are powering legacy systems. We see a good amount of skepticism in Cloud adoption. Few companies even approach Cloud in blended ways with their data center hosted infrastructure. Organizations are opening up their core offerings as service APIs. Such API approach to extending the business model to other partner or collaborators often requires the core systems to be rethought and re-engineered.
If you see any of the above initiatives in play at your organization, it is enough evidence to say that you are executing an aspect of Digital Transformation and are on the path to digital success.
An overarching Digital Transformation strategy is imperative in today’s business context:
If you already have a strategy in place, then you are doing it right. If you don’t, you need to start putting some thought around building a digital strategy.
Digital Transformation strategy – A strategy that comprehensively looks at customers, competitors, value proposition, innovation, culture, and data assets in view of today’s new possibilities powered by emerging technologies.
Ultimately, adding a cohesive strategy ensures an intentional well balanced approach to steering your organization in the right direction to embrace the new Digital Age. Read on to know more about the three most important elements to ensure your digital transformation initiative is successful.